Why does Tim Thomas have the 5th-best selling jersey in the NHL?

The NHL released its top selling jerseys thus far in the 2013-14 season on Shop NHL. Which one of these names is not like the others?

1. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
2. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
3. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
4. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
5. Tim Thomas, Florida Panthers

So we have the two biggest names on the reigning Stanley Cup champions, two of the most popular players in the world and a goalie that may have spent last season in an apocalyptic bunker and was signed by his team just days before opening night.

Why on Earth is a Tim Thomas Florida Panthers sweater outselling all but four players through the first month of the season? For a jersey that isn’t even a featured one on the website?

Is this standard-issue gear for cold weather tea party rallies?

We couldn’t find any evidence of that around the Web, so we bugged Matt Sacco, Panthers senior vice president of communications, with some other theories.

Are Thomas jerseys selling well with Florida fans?

“They seem to be,” he said, “but the most I see are Jonathan Huberdeau jerseys.

“I’m not surprised that he’s popular. When he’s been healthy, he’s been good.”

OK, but why would Panthers fans get that jacked over a player that missed a season and one they weren’t sure would be the same guy he was before his sabbatical?

“People have a history of latching onto our goalies here,” he said, citing Roberto Luongo and John Vanbiesbrouck as previous Panthers fan obsessions.

So here’s our theory: There are so many Northeast ex-pats in the Florida fan base that a former Boston Bruins hero becoming a Panthers goalie was the perfect storm, and the “I root for two teams” crowd ate up a bunch of Timmy jerseys in the last month.

“I’m sure that didn’t hurt,” said Sacco.

Whatever the case, Tim Thomas’ new NHL sweater is a hit. And if they came from Shop NHL – no sales tax! Timmy would be proud …